Supervisor Promoted Without HR Training Causes Discrimination Lawsuit

Newly promoted supervisors may not know their legal responsibilities, and their new positions may go to their heads, which could have severe legal consequences. That’s what happened in a recent California lawsuit.

deliveryTruckMr. Castro-Ramirez had worked as a truck driver in Los Angeles for about four years. He was an excellent employee. He had requested before being hired that he not be given late shifts, as he had to be home by 8:00 PM to put his son on a dialysis machine, something he had done for 15 years. Throughout his employment his supervisors accommodated his request, as they were required to do by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California law requiring reasonable accommodation for caregivers of people with disabilities.

A newly promoted supervisor came in to the department. He was informed of the accommodation but refused to continue it and gave Mr. Castro-Ramirez a later shift than what he’d had in the past. One of Mr. Castro-Ramirez’s regular customers sent an email to the new supervisor specifically requesting that Castro-Ramirez continue servicing their account at 7 am, but the supervisor told them he was not available. When Mr. Castro-Ramirez complained to the new supervisor and said the former supervisor accommodated him, the new supervisor laughed and said, “

[He] doesn’t work here anymore. Now it’s me.” He told Mr. Castro-Ramirez that if he did not do the route, he would be fired.

Three days later, Castro-Ramirez was terminated. He sued for disability discrimination. The Court of Appeals ruled that he had stated a claim for discrimination, and allowed his case to go to trial.

Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express (California 04/04/2016)

What this means to you: All newly promoted supervisors need to receive HR training immediately upon promotion, if not before. They need to know how to manage within the law. In this case, the new supervisor fired the employee after being in the position less than a month. In addition, it is the responsibility of the managers of new supervisors to pay attention to what they are doing – especially if they terminate long-term employees. In this case, the manager seemed to be out of the loop, and HR just took the supervisor’s word that the employee had refused to work his shift, rather than asking the employee for his side of the story. No employee should ever be fired without a workplace investigation in which the employee’s side is heard.

Posted 04-13-2016

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.